I get asked quite a bit about what a lot of my songs are about or what inspired them. For those that have seen me in concert before know that I talk… A LOT! I tell lots of stories about these songs and one day I thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to document these stories for all my songs?”. Well, here it is.
This isn’t EVERY song I’ve ever written. Some songs where never completed or even saw the light of day. I have decided to document ONLY the songs that have been completed. Some of these songs were played once, some of them never played in a live setting, and others I still play to this day. I hope you’ll enjoy this section as much as I did putting it together. Sheesh, it only took me FOREVER!
The Road Is In My Blood (1995) [Lyrics]
This song dates back to 1995 when I was just really starting to write songs. I was playing with a friend of mine and we used to play this one all the time. It’s got a bit of irony to it. It comes from a journal entry I wrote when I was in high school stating my displeasure of having to move so frequently because of my father’s job yet isn’t that being a musician is all about? Moving from place to place, city to city, bed to bed. I never did travel all that much as a musician but the few times I did made me see just how you can fall in love and become addicted to the road. It’s a bittersweet lifestyle.
Sailor’s Progress (1997) [Lyrics]
The more I listened to folk music, the more I started to understand and really get into metaphorical songwriting. I always thought that being a musician, or a dreamer in general, was much like being a sailor. You guide this vessel that is much larger than you could ever be through unchartered waters. Sometimes the sailing is smooth and other times it’s rocky and hard to control but no matter what, there is always a light to guide you back into shore through all the hard times. I don’t play this one as much as I used to… I should.
Me Myself and I (1997) [Lyrics]
This is another early song that saw me trying to figure out myself as a songwriter and as a person. We’ve all been lost at one time and trying to find our place in this giant world. This was just a document of where I was at the time. It seems so long ago…
August 9th (1997) [Lyrics]
I got in to the Grateful Dead just a tad bit too late. By the time I discovered the magic, it was too late and Jerry Garcia had passed away. I was also REALLY new to writing acoustic based songs and just wanted to try and put to words just how inspired I was by this man that I never got to see. It’s one of my earliest songs and was a staple of my live sets for my first few years as a solo folksinger/songwriter. I’d love to pull this one out again sometime in the future.
Put It There (1997) [Lyrics]
This is another song from the “early days”. Written for a friend who was going through some hard times in his life, this song was just another way of me trying to grow as a songwriter and trying to put my feelings to song. Over the years, this song has been a mainstay in all my solo sets and I continue to dedicate it to all my friends… old, new and future. It’s just my way of letting them all know that I’m here for them.
Drown (1998) [Lyrics]
Friendship is very important to me and was and probably always will be an element of my songwriting. This song is the predecessor for the song “13 Years” that would end up being played with Shades of Winter. It’s hard for me to see friends “drown” but I just remember being told that if you try and hold on to someone who’s going down for too long, eventually they pull you down with them. It’s sad to watch them go but you have to look out for yourself first and foremost.
I’ll Be These (1998)
I wrote this about 6 months after meeting my wife. She’s the world to me and is my biggest fan and biggest inspiration. I understood then why so many songwriters have written songs about that special woman in their life. It just made so much sense to me.
Sleep While I Drive (1999) [Lyrics]
This is another one that was played a handful of times right after its inception. One of my favorite sights is my lady asleep in the passenger seat while I’m driving. Whether it be a long trip or a short trip, it’s just something I love to see. When you sleep, you are in the most vulnerable of states and it just says how much you trust the person your with. I love it when she sleeps while I drive. It’s a beautiful sight.
Bidding’s Closed (1999) [Lyrics]
After watching Farm Aid and hearing about some farmers in North Carolina that were losing their land to corporate developers, I just felt moved to write this song. This song eventually would take on more a more personal meaning years later when my parents lost their home (not a farm). I always try and interject a little bit of myself into the stories of these songs instead of making them completely about me.
Weather Worn Highways (01/30/99) [Lyrics]
We had only been living in North Carolina for a few months when an old friend and music partner invited us to his wedding. I remember sitting outside the night before and smoking a cigarette on our back patio and feeling our first Carolina winter. It was colder than I was used to in Atlanta. The emotions of seeing old friends and knowing that I wasn’t living there anymore really sparked inspiration inside of me. Driving back to NC from the wedding it started snowing. Pretty amazing to us and this song just states that while you can always go back; it’s ok to not stay.
They Call Me Jesus (10/08/99) [Lyrics]
Back in Jonesboro, GA there used to be this homeless guy that would hang out at the local Waffle House. He was a real mysterious character but he wasn’t your typical bum. One day I walked in and there were about 12 teenagers sitting around him in a booth and he was talking about his beliefs about why he believed we are descendants of the apes and not made by a god. I remember asking him what his name was and he told me “They call me Jesus because we look the same”. I haven’t played this song in years. It wasn’t so much of a good song as it was a documentation of a memory of something pretty cool. Maybe I’ll re-write it someday.
Another Stormy Day (04/04/00) [Lyrics]
Just a song about being alone with the one you love gone far away. Not a very timeless song but a timeless topic that has been written by many in many different ways. I don’t even really remember how this one goes anymore.
Savannah, Joe & The Rail (10/02/00) [Lyrics]
There was a girl named Trina who was one of our friends when we lived in Concord, NC. She was kind of a sheltered person yet she had this desire and need to break away from whatever it was that kept her from doing all the things she wanted to do. One day, she made her way to Seattle, WA and hopped on a fishing boat to Alaska and work on it. While on the boat she met a guy, they fell in love and when the boat docked back in Seattle, they train hopped and hitchhiked all the way back to Virginia in time for Christmas Eve. How could that not be made into a song?
Talkin’ Nashville Songwriter’s Blues (2001) [Lyrics]
This was just a way to vent my frustrations of all those Nashville songwriter types. In Charlotte, they have a branch of the NSA (Nashville Songwriter’s Association). They just seemed to think they were all the be all and end all of the scene. I would go and play open mics and their critique of each person’s song was based on how marketable the song was or which pop country superstar could perform the song. This song was just a poke at them from the standpoint of a person who’s only desire is to go to Nashville to sell their songs.
The Sun & Moon Song (03/01/01) [Lyrics]
My friend Jennie in Saginaw, MI has inspired a few of my songs. I remember talking to hear one night and she was telling me how the Sun and the Moon both really inspired her. She also told me once that sometimes when she can’t see either of them because of clouds or something that she feels really affected by it. I just took that concept and ran with it. This is a song that to me lyrically is still a fave of mine but musically just sounds dated. I haven’t played it in years but the words still mean something to me to this day.
Comin’ Round Again (08/15/01) [Lyrics]
I wrote this one after visiting with a good friend in Atlanta, GA. He was recording and producing my first CD “Songs For The Ride Home” and we were sitting outside talking. I was lighting up a cigarette and he looked over to me and goes, “I wish you’d quit smoking. Not so much because it’s bad for you but because I’d like to have more moments like this many years from now. I’d like to know you’ll be coming around again”. It just hit me like a ton of bricks and really inspired me. I quit smoking about 2 years later and this song was a crowd fave back in Charlotte. Matter of fact, this one was a staple of the Back Porch Prophets’ sets with Bert Wray singing harmonies and ripping up the mandolin. What a great time. I’d love to pull this one out again sometime.
The Garden Song (How Does it Grow?) (09/18/01) [Lyrics]
When we lived in Concord, NC, we lived in this apartment complex where this lady had the most beautiful “garden” of hanging flowers and potted plants on her 3rd floor patio. She was a really pretty woman and a friend of mine and I used to see her out there just watering away and tending to this garden that she had created. This is just another example of how I like to create stories about people just from the small bit that see of them. I only played this live once as it was just one of those songs that just didn’t seem to really go anywhere.
Woman Of The Mountain (10/06/01) [Lyrics]
It’s amazing what a fever of 102 and codeine cough medicine can make you dream and see. This was actually documented in a notebook back in 1993 but wasn’t actually turned into a song until I showed to my good friend and Back Porch Prophets band mate Bert Wray in 2002. We STILL play this one whenever we’re together or sitting in on each other’s sets. It was a part of my solo set for a long time. No deep meaning here. Just a fever induced dream… much like the cowboys would probably have back in the day.
No Sad Songs (11/?/01) [Lyrics]
Yet another song inspired by a quote from my Michigan buddy! Sometimes, a sad song it just not something we need at a particular time. I know when I’ve had a bad day; I don’t want to hear a sad song. Pretty simple concept actually… not much else to say.
Irony & The Broke Folksinger (11/01/01) [Lyrics]
I only performed this once at a house concert many years ago. I was walking past the Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte, NC and there was some folksinger playing that night. I could hear his song and he was singing about being down and out and no place to lay his head yet the tickets for his show was $15.00. I had just played a gig across the street to 5 people and got about 10 bucks in tips and free coffee. Kinda made me feel like this was really ironic, hearing a folksinger singing about being broke yet filling a theater at $15.00 a head. I still don’t remember who it was but it was enough to make me write this tune.
For A Friend (11/03/01) [Lyrics]
A good friend of mine passed away back in 1999 from a heart attack at the age of 30. He had tried numerous times to get in touch with me and I always had that “I’ll call him back later” mentality. Well, I never got to call him back. This is just a song about moving on.
Make Me Believe (12/09/01) [Lyrics]
A good friend and songwriter by the name of Kevin Caran and I used to send each other phrases or lines to see if we could spark each other’s creativity to get a song started. He sent me the line “Make Me Believe” and the song pretty much wrote itself. “Make me believe I can change the world with a song…”. Don’t we all wish that?
Where The Stories Grow (12/24/01) [Lyrics]
I wrote this one as a journal entry back in 2001. This basically was just me listing some of the inspiring memories that never left my mind. I wanted to write a song documenting some inspiring memories and times in my life. As with some of these songs, I only played this one a few times but when I read these lyrics, they still make me smile as I can still remember vividly these moments. I’m so glad I’m a songwriter.
Weather Worn Highwasy (2002) [Lyrics]
While living in Concord, NC, I was invited by my friends twelvedollarpen in Atlanta to perform with them at a venue called If Coffeehouse. My parents were living in Jonesboro, GA still and after the show, I was at their house on their patio with my guitar scrawling out these lyrics in my notebook. A classic “musician on the road missing his woman” story. I was just excited that I could actually SAY that I was that!
Walkin’ In New Orleans (01/24/02) [Lyrics]
No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to completely break the ties of the place where you are originally from. It’s like this native, spirituality that our homeland calls to us no matter how far away we are or how much we try and run from it. I never want to live in New Orleans and haven’t since I lived there as a kid in 1988 but the heritage, the mysticism, the culture is all part of who I am. This was just my way of letting New Orleans know that I hadn’t forgotten her.
Wish For Rain (02/04/02) [Lyrics]
I was sitting in traffic on the interstate once and there was a construction crew working on the road. I saw this young man sleeping on the back of a truck with his hat over his face. This large, older man (who I assumed was “the boss”) went over to him and kicked his feet and appeared to be yelling at him to wake up. As he walked away, the young man looked over and made eye contact with me. He just closed his eyes and shook his head and went back to work. I still to this day don’t know what his story was but man I wanted come up with one that I thought was his story. I could be all wrong… I could be right on the money.
Ballad of Blackbeard The Artist (03/16/02) [Lyrics]
When I was living and performing around the Charlotte area, there was this artist who used to show up at all the local coffeehouse shows and just sit there and draw. He made his living traveling from town to town and just drawing any and every person, place or thing that he felt moved by. He was a sketchy little fellow missing a few teeth, scraggly beard and thick coke bottle glasses. While he may have been a bit sketchy, he had a huge heart. He used to come to almost all of my shows and at one of my last Charlotte shows he gave me a full color picture that he had drawn of me performing. It was a gift that you just can’t put a price on. What a nice gesture and inspiring to say the least.
A Letter Home (03/22/02) [Lyrics]
This was a song that I played maybe twice after writing it. I was experimenting with slide guitar and wrote this dark, bluesy lil ditty about a injured soldier on the brink of death writing a letter home to his loved ones. I played this one once and when it was over you could hear a pin drop. People told me it was a good song but I just always felt that it was so dark and just couldn’t really ever connect with it. I quit playing it shortly after.
Coffeehouse Thoughts/So Long (04/28/02) [Lyrics]
This is a duo of songs that I wrote when we found out we were leaving the Charlotte, NC area for Chapel Hill, NC. It was just an ode to my friends and peers letting them know how much I would miss them. Oddly enough, I never got to play it live as I just couldn’t bring myself to do it for some reason. I’ve looked back on this song and I really like it. It’s a good arrangement and I think it would’ve worked well in my solo sets but again, I just never got around to it. I’d love to re-visit this one and give it a whirl sometime.
Ghost Town (05/18/02) (12/03/07) [Lyrics]
I originally wrote this song and recorded for my “Postcards From Ghost Town” CD. I was never happy with the end result but included it anyway because something about it just made it hard for me to totally put it to rest. I wrote it about Stockbridge, GA. I was having a beer by myself in a bar that I used to hang at many years ago with many friends. It was funny how while the faces were all different, the vibe was still there. I could feel it as if time had not even touched it. I finally got inspired to re-write it after going on a Neko Case binge and still perform it as an audience favorite with my band Mystery Road.
The Garden By The Tracks (06/28/02) [Lyrics]
This was inspired by a community garden in Charlotte, NC that was made and maintained by rehabilitated homeless folks who were working hard to get back on their feet and trying to integrate themselves back into the working society. I was asked to perform at the dedication ceremony and to this day is one of the greatest moments of my life. It was such an honor and inspiring to say the least. I performed this song a few times the year it was written but then it just faded into obscurity. The memory and the song will always be a part of me but it just didn’t seem to be working with the material I was working on at the time so I retired it.
The Other Side (07/07/02) [Lyrics]
In 2001, two people in my life passed away. My Aunt Collette and a good friend of mine Robbie. This was very much inspired by Dylan and The Band mixed with that bit of New Orleans heritage that believes death is to be celebrated. Death is celebrated because human suffering is no more and that person is now at a place of total peace away from all the troubles and strife of the mortal world.
Hey Dave Matthews (07/08/02) [Lyrics]
I remember seeing Dave back in 1995 for like $15.00. It seemed that the more popular he got, the higher the ticket prices got making it nearly impossible for me to justify spending that much money to see him. This was just a “letter” from me to him letting him know that I felt like he pretty much dusted his diehard fans and left them behind for the trendy crowd that would now pay the high dollars to see him perform. It’s really too bad. This song was REALLY popular at my shows back then and was on my “Postcards From Ghost Town” CD.
At The Evening Muse (12/11/02) [Lyrics]
There is this venue in Charlotte, NC that is without a doubt one of the snootiest, stuck up, arrogant venues I have ever seen in my life. The place was just full of Nashville songwriter types and whenever I’d play there, the lady hosting the open mics would refer to me as a “rockin rolla”. I can say this because I know I will never play a full gig there. How do I know this? I know this because the owner, on more than one occasion, has told me that I’m not good enough to play in her venue. I have sent probably 4 CDs and kits only to be told “Keep trying, maybe you’ll get better”. Well, this is just pretty much a middle finger up to that place. It’s next on my list to record and will be sure to post it when I do!
Rainsville (05/25/03) [Lyrics]
Back in 2003, we took a road trip of the Southeast and drove through many small towns. We were driving through Kentucky I believe and we drove through this small rural town that looked like it had been hit pretty hard with some rains. As we drove through, there was a house that had a sign in the yard that said “Rain Rain Go Away!” I just took that and ran with it. 2 years later after Katrina hit in New Orleans, this song took on a whole new meaning for me and for those that heard it so I stopped playing it. I wish I would’ve kept playing it as it would’ve been very Dylan-esque of me to do so… staring disaster in the face and not being afraid to address it in song. Just because you don’t sing about it anymore doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Rambler’s Tune (10/01/03) (new chords on 08/04/07 orig. chords for WICRA) [Lyrics]
This is like a bastard son of Ry Cooder’s “Boomer’s Story” and Chris Robinson’s “Barefoot By The Cherry Tree”. The music from the original version of this song went on to be used in my song “I Wish I Could Run Away”. I always dug the lyrics for this one but never loved it musically. I actually put new music to it and it just didn’t work for me. It’s probably a better read story than it is as a song.
Take Me Back Home (12/29/03) [Lyrics]
With my woman out of town for a weekend, I sat in my room, smoked some pot and listened to the Grateful Dead’s “Workingman’s Dead” album constantly. I just felt inspired to write what I thought would be a song that could be on that album. It’s really simple song. Home is wherever your heart is and wherever you are happiest.
The Rain (Written by Bert Wray in 2004) [Lyrics]
I didn’t write this one. This was a song written for me by one of my best friends and favorite songwriters, Bert Wray. Bert and I jammed together and shared shows together for over 2 years in and around Charlotte, NC. He said he came up with this song because he was thinking of how I write songs and this one just came to him. It’s a pretty huge honor to have one of your favorite songwriters actually write a song FOR you. I’ve been playing in ever since he presented it to me and continue to do so.
Impossibilities (02/09/04) [Lyrics]
A good friend of mine who lives in Saginaw, MI has been a source of inspiration for a few of my songs. She’s a dear sweet person whose life lives like an album. There are upbeat parts, sad ballads, songs of heartache, despair and songs of rebirth and happiness. Her life’s stories became my songs and yet I found ways to connect with those songs, even if those particular events never happened in my life they way that they happened in hers. This particular song is about someone who was so close to “getting away” when an unexpected, yet somewhat needed, wrench got thrown in the gears. While it kept her from moving on, it changed her life for the best and made her a better person. She’s a huge inspiration to me and I will always love hearing her stories, whether they are sad or happy or funny or whatever.
Another Cowboy Song (05/07/04 – 06/07/04) [Lyrics]
I was on a serious Gillian Welch kick for about a month solid and after seeing her open for Norah Jones back in 2003, I felt compelled to write a cowboy song. ANOTHER cowboy song, if you will. I think every young boy has played cowboy and dreamt of riding the open land on horseback, just going from place to place and living off the earth. Sounds more fun than it probably is but hey, that’s what imaginations are for.
This Train’s A Comin’ (05/27/04) [Lyrics]
This was the title track to the my album “This Train’s A Comin’” that never saw the light of day. It was just one of those songs that when I was done with it just didn’t really move me much. I really liked the chorus and the title so decided to keep the title for the album name. It’s just another simple song about moving on to follow your dreams and your destiny.
300 Miles From Graceland (07/28/04) [Lyrics]
In 2004, we spent 3 days at the Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, TN. It was a great experience but what I found more interesting than anything was the locals. The young kids of Manchester roaming the festival grounds with their eyes as big as the sky itself just in awe of this circus, this carnival that had just pulled into town. They had this look in their eyes that just screamed “Please, take me with you!”. There was a DVD that documented the 2003 festival called “270 Miles From Graceland”. It had too many syllables so I called the song “300 Miles From Graceland”.
Anthem (2005) [Lyrics]
This is one out of the two only songs that I have ever written JUST music for. This was a song performed by Shades of Winter. I loved the music so much that I carted it around with me for years before putting this song to a set of Jennifer’s lyrics about a friend who was making a huge “comeback” in life. I always dug playing this song but could never understand all the lyrics. I should read them sometime as what I could get out of it, it was a good story.
Only The Blue Sky (2005) [Lyrics]
I wrote this song back in 1994 and never did anything with it. Actually, it was nothing more than just lyrics in a notebook. I always loved the lyrics and I actually re-wrote them and performed it with Shades of Winter. It’s not a complex song. It’s just a series of stories that I put together. Not even much of a message there. It’s just my idea that no matter how rough times can be, a blue sky can just make you smile and feel good if even for just a minute.
The Harbinger (2005) [Lyrics]
This is number two out of two of the only songs that I have written JUST music for. This was another song from the Shades of Winter catalog. It was another piece of music that I just fell in love with and I just couldn’t do a damn thing with it as it was so out of my vocal register and didn’t seem to go with anything I was doing at the time. Jennifer put lyrics to this piece and it is my 2nd favorite song from Shades of Winter. I really used to love playing this one and this was always our big finale.
Lying In Our Bed (10/21/05) [Lyrics]
I read on an Allman Brothers’ message board once a post from this kid who was basically asking for any help he could get in getting copies of his favorite Allman Brothers Band shows. He stated that his girlfriend had left him taking with her all his Allman Brothers shows and his favorite flannel shirt. The only benefit from other people’s misery sometimes is a song. I wish I had his contact info to let him know that someone was inspired by his pain.
I Drive (12/03/05) [Lyrics]
Another introspective song from the “…said the firefly to the hurricane” album. I love driving whether it’s a short trip to the store or an 8 hour trip to Georgia. I find driving to be very meditative. It’s just me and the road and my thoughts. This song is basically some random thoughts that I had driving back from my first visit to my parents little apartment in Douglasville, GA where they lived after being “ousted” from New Orleans by our ol’ friend Hurricane Katrina. I was so lost in thought on the way back home to NC that I didn’t even see the cop that was behind me with his lights on trying to pull me over for speeding for nearly a mile. He asked why I was in such a hurry and I said “I’m sorry, I just left my parents who were evacuees from Katrina and I’m just not focused.” He smiled and said, “I’m sorry, sir. I truly am. Just watch your speed and get home safely.” I will always appreciate and thank that officer for his understanding and concern
It Weighs A Ton (??/??/06) [Lyrics]
One of the first songs, word for word about ME and something I was going through. Due to events brought on by Hurricane Katrina, I was somewhat thrown into a relationship with my parents (mainly my father) that I never had before. We were never close and yet here we were, face to face making life changing decisions. I’ve learned a lot about my parents in this time but also realized just how often I take the weight of their worlds upon my shoulders. This was a huge step for me in seeing just who I was and what I could become.
I Wish I Could Run Away (2006) [Lyrics]
I was driving through Saxapahaw, NC to go see the Maxwell/Mosher Band play an outdoor festival show one Saturday in 2006 I believe. There was this guy walking on the side of the road with his bedroll and his thumb in the air. I didn’t pick him up as I have seen one too many After School Specials in my lifetime but the vision of him shaking his head and looking at the ground in my rearview mirror stuck with me the whole night. This is just me, once again, creating a story for someone I just saw in passing yet interjecting a bit of my own desire to wonder and “run away” from the shit that life can put on your plate sometime. Not all who wonder are lost I had to remind myself. He probably loves life more than most.
California Bound (01/30/06) [Lyrics]
This one just comes from that age old dream of yesteryear of going out to California to be a star. Kids today probably don’t understand or really remember that at one time, California was the place to go to be “found”. These days with the internet and things like YouTube and MySpace, you can practically be a star from your own home. I still think of those dreams of going to Hollywood to be a rock star and have yet to go to California. Someday I’ll get there.
I Wanna Kiss You On The Mouth (04/11/06) [Lyrics]
When I was playing bass guitar in the band “Good Turn”, I really had some pretty great and fun moments. One of them was during a photo shoot. We were out back behind The Cave in Chapel Hill and this crazy girl comes up to our singer Rita and she goes, “You’re so pretty” and Rita goes “Thank you dear”. The girl then goes, “You’re so pretty, I wanna kiss you on the mouth”. Wow, and a song was born. I never played it live but when I play it to myself; I still giggle and laugh remembering that very moment. Maybe it’ll be something one day. Who knows.
Hickory Still (04/15/06) [Lyrics]
This is a song I wrote but never have performed live. I wrote it shortly after my last solo show and it just never took off from there. It’s a simple song really. Back in the days, the ol’ bootleggers would gather around their still and that’s where they would congregate and make their “special recipe” to distribute to those needing a cure for what ailed them. I kind of just took that concept and made it a place where friends and family could gather around and sing, dance and drink all their troubles away. These days, we call them bars!
In You (06/21/06) [Lyrics]
My CD “Said The Firefly To The Hurricane” was a really important CD for me and a necessary CD for me to make. For the most part, it contained songs that were very close to me and that actually told more of my personal life as opposed to my normal storytelling songs. I really felt a need to make a CD for myself and to express all of my deepest feeling and emotions yet trying not to get overly self indulgent. This song was written for my dear woman of 11+ years who has been with me through thick, thin and through all of my emotional ups and downs. Every good woman deserves a song.
13 Years (08/21/06) [Lyrics]
While in Shades of Winter, I decided that in order to try and spark some creative movement in the band (which was drastically lacking), we should have an assignment. I asked everyone to write a brief entry, paragraph or anything about an old friend that is no longer communicated with and why. This is about a certain friend that was very close to me that I had to let go of. You can only keep someone from drowning for so long before they pull you under as well.
The News (09/07/06) [Lyrics]
The news… aint it depressing? I completely quit watching the news because I found that no matter when or where I was, if I turned it on, someone was shot, raped or murdered. Something was on fire or something was stolen. Why does the media feel that it’s necessary to fill us with so much negative news? Maybe it makes most feel better when they can see that someone’s day was that much worse than theirs. Not what I’m into…
Winds Of Home (09/10/06) [Lyrics]
This is another Shades of Winter song that was inspired by a series of personal events that were going on. Shades of Winter was close to being done with in my mind and this song pretty much addresses how I felt that my destiny, my calling, was to perform music that was more true to my heart. I was also trying to communicate a message to someone that even upon hearing this song still didn’t get “the message”. Just another song that I love very much but one of those things that are just best left unsaid.
The Night Gram Parsons Died (10/08/06) [Lyrics]
The songs that ended up on “…said the firefly to the hurricane” really came from an introspective time for me. I was digging really deep into my own life and soul for “the words” and ended up with some of my personal favorite songs. I had been listening to the Gram Parsons album “Grievous Angel” and just really feel in love with his songs. Like I do when I get turned on to something new, I read any and everything I can about that artist. His mysterious death in itself was such an amazingly strange story. I just couldn’t believe that it hadn’t been made into a song. I’d like to think I beat ‘em to the punch but ya never know.
Back To When (12/19/06) [Lyrics]
This was written after taking a brief work while at work. How many times have you just thought back to when you were younger and how you just didn’t have all the issues that you have as you get older? As you get older, trials and troubles don’t go away, they just replace themselves with new ones. Sometimes it’s nice to think back to when things were just simpler.
Moonsteppin’ (??/??/07) [Lyrics]
Being from New Orleans, it’s a given that I’m a huge fan of the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I always loved the mystique of that city and her books really made that place come alive in a great way. Sting had written a song called “Moon Over Bourbon Street” inspired by those books and he’s not even from there. Hell, if Sting can do it, I can do it! This one was played in the last few Shades of Winter gigs and then never played again. I really like this song and I wouldn’t mind seeing it make a return sometime.
The Song Is Over (09/02/07) [Lyrics]
This is a song that will never see the light of day but it was a song that I had to write as a therapeutic move to get over a chapter in my life. Instead of being passive aggressive and using this song as a “poke” at someone, I decided to write it, play it through for myself and just let it go. Some things are just best left unsaid.
Drought County (09/16/07) [Lyrics]
I don’t usually listen to NPR but after forgetting my iPod at the office one day, decided to listen to it on the way home. I happened to catch a story about the NC drought situation of 2007 and it was really quite moving. It really made me see that there was a lot more to it that me not being able to water my lawn or wash my car. People’s lives were totally shifted and in many cases devastated by the lack of rain and drying up of the lakes, streams and reservoirs. Nature vs. Human… a tough battle to be a part of and to lose.
Jennifer (She Wishes On Stars) (11/26/07) [Lyrics]
Another in a string of songs that were inspired by a good friend from Saginaw, MI. Her life stories always inspire me because it seems that no matter how often life gives her lemons, she makes lemonade and shares it with me. I’d like to think that this is just my way of letting her know that her life is inspiring to me as a songwriter and not just her life, but the way she handles things. I hope that she will always continue to wish on stars, no matter how many fall.
Rest Stop For The Lonely (03/18/08) [Lyrics]
The best thing that ever happened to folksingers (besides coffee) is diners, Waffle House in particular. I’ve always thought that diners/Waffle Houses are awesome because no matter what time of day, if you just sit and listen, you can hear the stories of so many people. It’s a sort of “rest stop” for lonely people to talk to each other, exchange stories and move on. It’s quite a fascinating experience actually. Next time you’re at one, just listen. You will be amazed!
Understand (02/25/08) [Lyrics]
My mother is a diehard Catholic. I am NOT a Catholic. Matter of fact, I don’t believe in God at all. My mother really has a hard time with that but I think I have just as hard of a time watching her place all her faith in a God that I feel has failed her. It’s just a song of acceptance. I’ll try my best to understand her if she’ll do the same of me. Easier said than done.
Eliza (05/27/08) [Lyrics]
Being away from the one you love for a long period of time really can be hard. I don’t know how people who don’t write cope with emotions like this. This was written the 1st day of a 3 month span that I would be living without my lady while she worked in DC for the summer. This song just made me feel like I could express my feelings and passion for her. I also was REALLY moved by Whiskeytown’s “Faithless Street” album which has been a huge inspiration to me.
Crescent City Girl (06/10/08) [Lyrics]
When New Orleans was hit by the floods brought on by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, It really hit me hard. I had family and close friends still there and some lost it all, some were lucky and had minimal to no damage. This song is two stories of two separate people to make one song. The song is loosely based on the life of an old friend and also a story that I read online about how even though it’s been 3 years since Katrina that locals are still dealing with the aftermath and having to get on with life.
The Door Swings Both Ways (07/22/08) [Lyrics]
If you wanna go, go. If you wanna stay. Life is too short to be with someone that you are not happy with whether it be a love relationship, a band or a workplace. Life is too short to not be happy.
A Prison Story (08/22/08) [Lyrics]
This song was written after listening to “Nebraska” by Bruce Springsteen. I just modernized it and put my own twist on it. Some stories are timeless and to me, much like the cowboy, the prisoner is a character that will never grow old. In my mind, behind every person lies passion, compassion, rage, fear and a dream. It just seemed like a story that I felt moved to address in a song.
Never Too Late (11/08/08) [Lyrics]
2008 saw a huge change in the way the American people think. A man has promised change and enough of us listened and have given him the chance to make that change. My parents are are old and set in their ways. It sounds mean to put it that way but it’s true. To see my parents have a change of face and be open to change like this just showed me that it’s never too late and you’re never to old to change. Even when it’s hard to swallow, sometimes change is a much needed pill to cure what ails ye!
Hope (11/22/08) [Lyrics]
This is a song not so much about but “to” Hope Sandoval, former singer of the band Mazzy Star. Mazzy Star has been one of my favorite bands since the day I heard them. Hope Sandoval’s lyrics and hypnotic voice always carry me to “that place”. Just where it is I’m not sure but it’s a beautiful, warm, cozy and safe place. This is merely a thank you to Hope. We all could use a lil Hope.
Drunk On Sunday (03/09/2009) [Lyrics]
This is what happens when you listen to a lot of Drive By Truckers. I just had it in my head that I wanted to write a Mike Cooley song and as always, it didn’t come out just like I planned which is good. The problem is that I usually start out inspired and then once I start writing it just starts to become my own which is a good thing. There are a few parts in here that can be somewhat autobiographical but for the most part, it’s just a song dedicated to the ol’ folkies out there who never gave up and continue to do what they do because it’s what they know and what they love. Musical integrity can sometimes be as much a curse as it can be a redeeming quality but no matter what, at least you can say you stuck to your guns.
Cemetery Angel (03/27/2009) [Lyrics]
I was on the bus in Chapel Hill, riding to work one morning. You see, every morning, one of our stops (three stops before mine actually) was right in front of a cemetery. I always thought it was odd that there was this huge ass cemetery right on campus by the residence halls. Anyways, one morning were stopped there to drop a few off and this really beautiful blonde haired girl was just standing in the pouring rain waiting for the appropriate bus. I really thought it was odd that she didn’t just hop on to get out of the rain. Instead, she just stood there with her hair soaking wet and mascara running. As we pulled away, I looked back and saw her just look up and shrug her shoulders. It was a very powerful image to take in at 7:15 in the morning.
Motel Arizona (10/23/2009) [Lyrics]
I have always found that one of the biggest inspirations for writing a song is geographical change. After over 10 years in North Carolina, I found myself and my lovely woman back in Atlanta, GA. We had been gone for over 10 years so it was literally like coming to a different place. I felt like a lil folksinger in the big city. Buildings everywhere, people everywhere yet I was feeling lonely. This is just a love song to North Carolina from where I was at. Why “Motel Arizona”? Can you think of a more lonely sounding place?
Brother & Sister (11/23/2009) [Lyrics]
I had gone back to North Carolina for a show and my good friends Chris & Anita put me up for the night. They have two really awesome kids who are 5 years old and 3 years old. I was looking on their fireplace mantle and there was this picture of them and they were so cute. It was a black & white picture and they weren’t smiling. The picture literally looked like it was from the 30’s Dustbowl era. I took a bit of their real lives and mixed it with a story of the Dustbowl era to try and make it flow as one. It’s funny where inspiration can come from sometimes. This time it was merely from a photograph. It reminded me to pay attention to every little detail in life because you never know what you’re passing up.
Westward Expedition (01/12/2010) [Lyrics]
I went to California for the first time in the Summer of 2009 and what an experience it was. I went down to the Sunset Strip, saw the Walk of Fame, saw the Guitar Center Rock Walk and even had lunch at the legendary Rainbow Bar & Grill. I was having lunch there and someone there told me jokingly, “Welcome to Hollywood. Where dreams go to die!” This really summed up what I felt about Hollywood by the end of the day there. The song documents my trip out there and I also talk about my first trip to Vegas that occurred about 4 months later. That’s why I love songwriting. You can combine things that have happened in life and make them one fluid story. And yes, the guy I lost my money to… his name was Zhiu (Zoo).
Another Rainy Night In Georgia (01/24/2010) [Lyrics]
2009 was the Summer of Rain here in Atlanta. We had a flood here of near Katrina proportions. My wife had left to go away for a month. It was a Sunday night and every element of a song was present. I was listening to Tony Joe White, Bob Dylan, drinking whiskey and missing my woman with my journal and guitar right next to me. This song literally just came pouring out of me. It came out word for word with no revisions, changes or additions. It was just one of those rare beautiful moments that I can look back on and smile. This song reminded me just why I love being a songwriter as much as I do.
Sticks & Stones (03/02/2010) [Lyrics]
I feel like there are a million songs out there about lost loves and broken relationships but you never really hear any songs about friendships that ended. This is just a song about a friendship lost that was about as hard to write as a song about lost love. Actually, come to think of it, a friendship is a form of loving bond so when it does end nasty, it’s just as hard to swallow. This is just my way of saying while we may not be friends, I still wish you nothing but the best. This is me taking the high road in life.
Why I Sing About The Rain (08/17/2010 [Lyrics]
Nobody ever seems to ask why there are so many songs about love. Nobody seems to ask why there are so many songs about wondering and being lost. The rain seems to be a common thread in a lot of my songs. My best friend in Chapel Hill always makes fun of me for having so many “rain” songs. So much in fact that when I wrote a song called “Drought County” it just seemed like the next extreme of my weather songs. The weather plays a huge part in my creativity. When most find comfort and inspiration in clear blue skies and warm weather, I find mine on cold, grey cloudy days. The rain is something pretty amazing. It’s water from the friggin’ sky. Yeah, I know. It’s pretty amazing and inspiring all the same.
You Built A Wall (10/23/2010) [Lyrics]
Living in Atlanta has been a great experience for being a songwriter. I walk a lot around here because Atlanta has a lot of sidewalks which is something that Durham, NC lacked. Anyways, there is this one huge development that has a huge brick wall around the perimeter and a huge iron gate that opens to let all the high priced cars in and out. It looks like it’s own little kingdom and I found it funny that these people feel safe and in their own rich little world behind that wall yet they have to shop at the same store that I do, get my gas at the same gas station and pretty much share my world yet when they go home, their world is too sacred for us commoners to be a part of.
I Had A Good Time (11/16/2010) [Lyrics]
Back when I lived in North Carolina I had a band called Mystery Road. Our big “call and response” was a line we stole from Spinal Tap. We use to say , “Have a good time…” and the audience would yell, “…ALL THE TIME!” It became our motto and EVERYONE knew it. Now that I’m no longer in that band and I’ve had time away from it, I can reflect back on it and honestly say that I did have a good time, all the time; warts and all. This is also a lil message to my former band mate Elana who has since moved on to do some amazing things and still manages to play with me whenever I get back to NC. It’s always like a mini reunion and this song was just a lil message to hear and everyone else that I truly did have a good time… ALL THE TIME!
Fart Proudly (11/17/2010) [Lyrics]
Ben Franklin was an awesome fella who was way ahead of his time. Years ago I was introduced to a book of his writings called “Fart Proudly.” Ben Franklin had this idea that there should be some sort of pill or seed invented that would make the smell of flatulent emissions more pleasant. He also thought it was absurd to be embarrassed about farting because it was a natural thing that comes from deep inside us. Why would you suppress what your body needs to release naturally? Besides, how many songs about farts do you know of? Not many right? I’m trying to corner the market here.
Gone Walkin’ (12/09/2010) [Lyrics]
The one upside to my wife traveling for long periods of time for her job is that I always seem to get a song or two out of it. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well, it also makes the pen flow for me as a songwriter. I was feeling a bit bored so decided to take a long walk. As I walked I got hungry so made my way to Lenox Mall, got me some Chick Fil A and sat down in the food court to eat. Mall Food Courts are right up there with bars and amusement parks for the best people watching. On my way back home I took the long way home and walked slow just taking things in. I walked in the door, went straight for my guitar and notebook and penned this one in about 10 minutes. It practically wrote itself. Walking is awesome and people will always fascinate me more than anything.
Crosby, Nash & Me (01/22/2011) [Lyrics]
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep and if you’ve ever taken Ambien before, you know this. You also know that with an amazing night’s sleep you get some crazy ass dreams. This song is pretty much a detailed account of a dream that I had. This dream was so awesome that in my dream, I remember saying, “Man, this is a cool ass dream!” Dreams are just songs waiting to happen but luckily from time to time one remains so vivid, long enough for you to recount it!
Cemetery Angel (05/11/2011) [Lyrics]
I wrote this and re wrote it and rewrote it again yet I still can’t manage to find my groove with it. It’s still one of my favorite pieces lyrically but musically it just never seems to connect. Maybe this one was just meant to be a pretty story. It’s amazing how much you can get out of seeing someone standing in the rain from your passing bus.
I Listen to NPR (06/23/2012) [Lyrics]
My wife loves listening to NPR all the time and while I don’t love it, I don’t really hate it either. There are some pretty cool aspects to NPR but then again, some pretty crappy things. I did what I do best and that was to put my feelings to music. It’s amazing to see the looks of contempt I get from people while their significant other is smiling and giving me a thumbs up. It’s a song to make you think and if anything, to make you and your significant other fight if you’re on opposing sides. All in all, it’s just all in fun. Ira Glass, if you’re reading this, I think you’re pretty cool myself.
Bring Me Water (08/10/2011 – 02/02/2012 ) [Lyrics]
This is my first tragic love story. It’s a love story with a beautiful twist. What inspired me to write this was my two day musical adventure with Bert Wray. We played country songs for each other and came up with crazy ass stories. It’s just a story of forbidden and undying love. Not a really hard concept to grasp but a hard one to write about. This one however wrote itself.
Where I’m From (started on 01/12/12 and completed on 02/08/2012 [Lyrics]
Whenever people ask, “So where are you from”, it’s almost always followed by said person’s place of birth or the place where they currently reside. As a songwriter, I sometimes hear questions like this and answer them to myself in a sometimes deeper sense. This song is just a big mix of the kind of “place” where I come from as a person and in my head, this place is the coolest place. It may not geographically exist but in my mind, it’s where I’m from and this place is the best!
Somewhere In Between (07/09/2012) [Lyrics]
Between, GA is a town “between” Atlanta and Athens, GA with a population of 296 people (thanks Wikipedia). On our way to a show in Athens we drove through Between, GA and I just remembered thinking that if I didn’t write a song about Between, GA it would be a travesty. Well, as far as I can tell, I’m the first one to sing about Between. This song was written about an old friend who I imagined would end up just like the character in this song if she ever moved there to just get away from it all.
When The Sun Goes Down (09/09/2012) [Lyrics]
I worked with a really cool gal for a little while on a musical project that never came to fruition. In my short time working with her I got to know her really well and certain events in her life inspired me to write songs outside of my box. Her stories of lost love and her search for that perfect someone to fill a void in her life really inspired me and this is just one of those songs about looking for love. There’s nothing really deep about this song but I love the idea that someone looking for love can relate to this one.
Another Day Away (10/31/2012) [Lyrics]
Much like “When the Sun Goes Down”, this song was inspired by a story of lost love from my former musical partner. When I was writing this song, I put myself in the first person in order to make a connection and once I did that the lyrics just came flying out of me. Even though I’m a totally happy guy, I can relate to being heartbroken. Everyone has had their heart broken once so to tap into that emotion was much easier than I thought it would be. I also wrote this one with the idea that one of my all-time favorite singers Kelly Hogan would be singing it. Hey, a boy can dream right?
Hiding From The Blues (12/03/2012) [Lyrics]
After my dad passed away in August of 2012 I found myself needing to just get away and to process my thoughts and feelings. In December I went and spent a week in the North GA mountains in a cabin with nothing but my guitar, my notebooks, some green, and a bottle of whiskey. It’s amazing how your mind works when you remove all of the daily distractions. This song pretty much documented my “hiding” out and even though I finished it, I never played it live or recorded it. I think this song was just from such a tender place that I don’t know that it was even meant to be heard as much as it was just meant for me to get out of my system.
Carry Me Home (01/18/2013) [Lyrics]
When we took my dad’s remains to New Orleans it was like taking him back home. That was his only wish. He just wanted to be taken back to New Orleans. On the long drive back to Atlanta I found myself thinking about what I would want for myself after my dying day. All I could think about was that I want to be taken back to New Orleans and tossed into the Mississippi River and then for everyone to get some kick ass seafood, get fucked up, and remember the good times. It’s strange to think that I’m at that age where I have to think about shit like this but as is life.
Ghosts of Memphis (11/06/2013) [Lyrics]
For my mother’s 70th birthday I took her to Graceland. She’s been an Elvis fan since she was a kid and all her life dreamed of going to Graceland. Well, we made the trek to Graceland and it was magical. The car ride to and from with my mother presented me with some amazing stories that I had never heard that had me both laughing and crying. We listened to great music, had great food, and took in all the sites of Memphis. We lip synched to Elvis songs at Sun Studio and I really felt like I was watching this inner youth come out of her. Seeing her so happy and so fun made me feel that maybe getting old really is just a mind thing. If I can be as fun loving and high spirited as she was that weekend when I’m 70 I think I’ll be alright.
Shall We Dance (02/14/2014) [Lyrics]
This is just a very simple song that I wrote about my wife and I. I’m so lucky to have a woman in my life who embraces and loves the simplest of cures sometimes. Sometimes after a crazy day, crazy week, whatever it’s just fun to put on your favorite song and just dance all your blues away. The original inspiration for this song was that episode of Freaks and Geeks where Lindsay Weir discovers the Grateful Dead. She puts on American Beauty and starts to lose herself in the music just letting it all go as she dances around in her room without a care in the world. If you haven’t already, you should try this sometime.
The Greatest Drug of All (06/25/2014) [Lyrics]
In this genre of music, it seems that the common cure for a broken heart is alcohol, marijuana, or an assortment of pills that have varied affects. This song is just a very simple broken heart song. Writing about failed love and broken hearts is not something I have ever addressed because honestly, for the last 17 years i have been happy and loved and not lonely. When I told a friend this he told me, “Yeah, but have you ever been heartbroken, lonely, and sad?” I said, “Yes.” He then said, “There you go. You’re allowed to write and sing about it because you lived it.” Well, there ya go!
Nashville’s Burning (11/05/2014) [Lyrics]
Nashville. I have hated what that town has done to music for many, many years. Just hearing the pure shit that they turn out and call “country” music is enough to rise Johnny Cash from the dead. I’m so glad he died before he had to even know that Florida Georgia Line exists. This song is pretty much my little ode to Nashville as a state of mine, not so much the actual city. I love Nashville itself. I just hate what the people that make its music scene what it is have done to such a simple, working class kind of music. Where’s the marshmallows?
I Get Stoned, I Write Songs, Then Go Back to Sleep (12/10/14) [Lyrics]
The title of this song says it all. This is just one of those songs that just came out of me. No editing, no real though, just pen to paper with a melody and voila. This is probably one of my favorite songs that I’ve written because of the fact that it’s so simple and honest. This is one of those songs that is just a piece of my life and how I sometimes do things. I wish all my songs could come to me this fast and straightforward.
Odd Fellows Rest (5/14/2015) [Lyrics]
My dad passed away back in 2012 and he was buried in the legendary cemetery Odd Fellow’s Rest in New Orleans. Being born and raised in New Orleans, I heard many tales and stories of old. This song was just my way to create a little bit of New Orleans folklore of my own while at the same time paying tribute to my father. My dad loved New Orleans and all of the dark and mystical energy of that city and I’d like to think that if he was alive to hear it, he would love it as much as I loved creating it.
Leaving New Orleans (9/15/2015) [Lyrics]
The heavy metal band Down had a song called “New Orleans is a Dying Whore.” I can’t think of a better way to describe it myself. New Orleans is in my blood and it’s a huge part of who I am and what I am. The long line of storytelling, the guttural laugh, the slow pace of my general being all come as a result of being a “coonass.” I also have a love/hate relationship with New Orleans. As much as I will always love being from there and will be proud of my heritage, I could never live there again. No matter how much I miss New Orleans, whenever I visit I can’t wait to leave again just so I can miss her and love her even more.
The Devil is You (1/16/2016) [Lyrics]
Writing songs about heartbreak has never been my thing because I always believed that I should be writing from my own heart and my own experiences. After spending a lonely day of smoking and listening to Whiskeytown, I found myself channeling my inner Ryan Adams and reminding myself that even though I hadn’t been heartbroken in many, many years, it was still something that I (as well as everyone I know) has experience. This made it easy for me to connect and much like my song “The Greatest Drug of All”, it had me addressing the red headed “devil” that broke my 16 year old heart. Not really carrying a grudge as much picking up a grudge that I let go of a long time ago for a bit of inspiration only to put it down again. Does that mean this song is now a grudge? Things that make you go hm, indeed.
Bring It On Home Again (1/18/2016) [Lyrics]
One night Collins Drive was playing a gig and the young lady who was our waitress just seemed to have a face that told a story. She seemed very kind and very sweet but I could tell that she had been hurt. She seemed to carry her pain with her a bit. While we were playing, I watched her stand in the corner and she closed her eyes, smiled, and nodded to the music. After our set was over, she told me that she really liked our songs because she felt like she connected to them. For all I know, she could be in the happiest, most committed relationship ever but once again channeling Ryan Adams, I decided to create my own story of her life. I’d love for her to some day hear this song just so I can see if she reacts to it at all.